Feeling a bit lost? Lacklustre? You may have decision fatigue. But, if you are suffering any of these signs, here are a few ways you can avoid it.

Have you ever heard of decision fatigue? What even is it anyway?

In a super-connected world, we should be finding we are more efficient, saving time for ourselves and things that matter to us. However, it appears we now have the opposite problem.

According to recent research, which analysed more than 225 million working hours, the average user tends to switch between tasks over 300 times per day during working hours. That’s a lot for anyone to deal with.

Instead of being more relaxed about our super-efficiency, we are actually just trying to pack more in. The result is decision fatigue, where a lack of energy and poor focus impacts our decision-making ability.

It’s no secret that making smart choices is an important life skill which can be particularly useful in our careers. So let’s talk about decision fatigue and ways to beat it so that we regain our productivity and decision-making ability.

Why do we experience it?

We experience decision fatigue when we find ourselves unable to make good decisions as a result of too much decision making. This basically means that the more decisions we make, the bigger is our struggle to make balanced and well-informed choices. 

Even if you are the most rational person in the world, it’s impossible for you to make decision after decision and maintain a clear focused mind. Moreover, mental fatigue is very different from physical fatigue, which we can easily feel in our bodies. It’s not uncommon that we are not even aware of its presence.

3 signs of decision fatigue

Anyone who has ever planned a wedding, managed a building project, or any project for that matter, will know how exhausting it is. Have you ever found yourself completely unable to make even the simplest decisions? Do you find yourself procrastinating or even the opposite and acting more impulsively? Are you even starting to think “I just don’t care?”

These are three signs you have decision fatigue.

You can find yourself paralysed by simple choices.

Things like staring dumbly at a computer screen are fairly commonplace. Or, agonising over what to have for lunch.

Procrastinating. Relentlessly.

Now, this is one of the surest signs of decision fatigue. It stops you from performing well, you miss deadlines, end up sacrificing sleep. Your work and personal life suffer. Procrastinating will send you on a downward spiral, avoid it at all costs.

Impulsiveness, although it’s not a bad thing, doesn’t always help.

The downside is that it can make you more impulsive, just to get jobs off the desk. That just leads to chaos and it might be time to reign things in.

How to get over decision fatigue

Understand how productive you are during the day. Look at your working patterns and start by trying to reduce the number of insignificant minor decisions you need to make during the day.

You might find it depends on your industry. Apparently, writers are early birds and find their productivity peaks during the morning. Software developers, however, don’t hit peak productivity until 2 pm!

Here are a few tips for getting over decision fatigue.

Dedicate some time in the morning to set priorities for the day ahead.

Research shows that we are more productive in the mornings, so be sure to dedicate some time to planning while you are getting ready for work. It’s a good idea to review your schedule and focus on the most important decisions and tasks at the start of the day.

Don’t overload your day with tasks.

People think packing their days means they get a lot done, but that isn’t true. Avoid things like setting up back-to-back meetings as they have little value but take a lot of energy and time. At the same time, don’t push yourself to achieve perfection while getting things done. It’s not always possible to be perfect in everything you do – sometimes it’s enough just to meet the deadline.

Remove insignificant and unnecessary choices from your life.

Work smart, not hard. This also involves moving your focus from insignificant tasks to the ones that really matter. So you need to make an effort to reduce the number of unnecessary small decisions in your life. This could be anything that would result in a simpler daily routine and lifestyle.

Organize your tasks.

Organizing your tasks into lists and groups will help you have a clearer picture of what needs to be done. It also prevents information overload and overwhelm so that you can feel you have control over your life. Thus, grouping similar tasks together will give you a better idea about which task you need to start with.

Estimate the risks and costs of your choices.

It’s important to take some time to think about what consequences your choices will have. This includes assessing the impact of your decisions, related risks, and costs, as well as the possible benefits. This analysis will help you stay away from the choices that are too risky or require too many resources.

Decision fatigue can hinder your progress in career and life. Knowing its signs and finding an effective decision-making process is a way to regain your ability to make good choices. This, in turn, will help you stay productive during the day and committed to your goals.


  1. https://journals.sagepub.com
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com

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